For those who would like to be familiar with the worldviews and messages in the books, films, and TV shows effecting a primarily Young Adult audience, I offer the following excerpts from some of my recent reviews. Keep in mind that my main goal is to look at how the story reflects and shapes the readers’ worldview. Click on the title links for the full reviews.
“There is a lot to like about this series. Mrs. Condie honors family, tradition, integrity, imagination, creativity, loyalty, bravery, friendship, commitment… It’s quite a list. I do find it interesting, however, that when she writes a story without religion, she also writes a story that is quite bleak. Close to the end of the series, Cassia concludes: ‘But I also know we can’t plan on anyone else rescuing us. We have to do it ourselves. There can be no one Pilot. We have to be strong enough to go without the belief that someone can sweep down and save us.’
It’s all up to us. We must save ourselves. That sounds noble, but the story’s conclusion shows the barren hope that humanity has to offer. In the end, the Rising will become the society, much like the rebellion in The Hunger Games. Sure, Ky and Cassia have each other, but there love is one small candle in an sweeping darkness. It may warm their hearts, but not the world.”
#2. Beautiful Creatures (This review focuses on the book, not the film.)
“The beginning of Beautiful Creatures quotes Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ Lena has brought on a storm because of her power, but she may yet blow the darkness away as the series unfolds. As of now, the clouds don’t look like they will be going away any time soon. Beautiful Creatures does offer some light, but I’m not sure it shines brightly enough for those who need to be truly set free from the darkness that lurks inside us all.”
“I’ve seen movies and read stories with a lot of darkness before. When done well, they simply set up the brilliance of the light. This story has a wealth of redemptive potential. When that many people have that many dark sins, a gold mine of hope awaits. It’s too bad nobody knew how dig for that kind of treasure. I kept waiting for someone to change for the better, for someone to embrace a new kind of life, for someone to find light, life and hope.But then the credits rolled as the final scene took the movie home: Jack driving a boat out of a swamp, accompanied by the dead bodies of two people he tried to save but couldn’t. The Paperboy may have peeled back a facade of evil, but I’m not sure that what we see underneath is any different.”
“I think it’s the best a strongly humanist story has to offer. Isaac Marion is not a fan of religion, and his book reflects a world that relies on people to save themselves. I liked that he wasn’t naïve about the ugly side of human nature. I was impressed by his critique of our shallow culture. And if I had to choose something that people do to change the world, I would vote for genuine love and compassion too.Having said that, I was frustrated by an ending that could have brilliantly pointed to a much bigger Savior, but settled for an emergent force that somehow resurrects us from our own nihilistic path. That’s the dead part in a story that otherwise felt oddly alive. Perhaps that a place where those of us who believe in Resurrection can explain what a different ending looks like.”